Australia set to pay polluters to cut emissions

2014-10-31 09:21

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - Australia is set to approve measures giving polluters financial incentives to reduce emissions blamed for climate change, in a move critics described as ineffective environmental policy.

The so-called "direct action" plan, which will see the government pay companies to increase energy efficiency, passed through the upper house Senate early on Friday following a marathon debate.

The bill is expected to be approved next month by the lower House of Representatives where the conservative government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott has a majority.

It comes after Abbott axed a tax on greenhouse gas emissions introduced by the previous Labour administration, fulfilling a central pledge from last year's elections.

"We have delivered on our promise to implement an emissions reduction fund to ensure that there is real and practical action to achieve our emissions goals and targets without a carbon tax", environment minister Greg Hunt told reporters.

China and the United States are the biggest greenhouse gas polluters, according to a report by international scientists issued last month, but Australia's output is considered high per capita.

The $2.25bn Emissions Reduction Fund is part of the government's plan to meet its emissions reduction target of five percent below 2000 levels by 2020.

Under the plan, competitive auctions will be held, with the government entering into contracts to buy emissions reductions from successful bidders at the lowest cost, Hunt said.

He added that the emissions reductions would be "real and significant" as payments would only be made when the pollution cuts occur.

'Not the right way to go'

But the Labour opposition leader Bill Shorten criticised the scheme, describing it as "paying big polluters to keep polluting, which is terrible policy".

"In terms of 'Direct Action', Labour just doesn't believe it is the right way to go. We believe in trusting the marketplace to set the price signal", Shorten said on Friday.

The policy has also been slammed by the Greens party, with leader Christine Milne saying there was "no modelling or any evidence to suggest it will do anything at all to reduce pollution".

The plan passed with the backing of the Palmer United Party. As part of the government's deal with mining magnate Clive Palmer's party, Hunt agreed to keep the climate change authority (CCA) and set up a three-stage, 18-month inquiry into an emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The government had been planning to abolish the CCA, an independent climate change agency set up by the previous government.

The University of Queensland's John Quiggin, a CCA member and economics professor, welcomed the inquiry into an ETS.

"The overwhelming view of economists is that a price-based measure such as an ETS is a critical component of a carbon mitigation policy", Quiggin said.

Although the government rejected setting aside some of the fund to purchase international carbon credits, environmental economist Caroline Sullivan said similar offset schemes within Australia should be considered.

Carbon offset schemes allow individuals or firms a way to reduce their carbon footprint by investing in projects that absorb greenhouse gases.

"This relatively large sum of money (from the fund) can not only help to motivate carbon reductions from large emitters, but could also provide a hugely important, and much needed economic stimulus for rural and regional Australia", Sullivan, from Southern Cross University, said.

Read more on:    australia  |  climate change  |  pollution

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.